Stupid tech support tricks: IT calls of shame

Pronoun problems, IT ghosts, the runaway mouse -- when it comes to computers, the customer isn't always right

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Stupid tech support trick No. 2: Finding the perfect pitch

Effectively communicating with clients is a common challenge of customer support, especially when help is being provided over the phone. For Michelle Fiske, a productivity consultant at PC Helps, the challenge recently reached new heights -- and forced her to drop to a new low.

Fiske was working with an older customer who didn't have the best hearing. No matter how slowly she spoke or clearly she enunciated, the man couldn't make out a word she said.

Maybe it was intuition, or maybe it was a matter of experience with her own golden-yeared relatives, but Fiske was struck with a revelation: She realized the high pitch of her voice was probably the issue. She tested her hypothesis in the most scientific way she could come up with -- you know, doing her best Brad Garrett impersonation. Sure enough, it worked.

"He sort of laughed at me and said that it was much better and he could understand," Fiske remembers. "He seemed surprised I could get my voice down so low like that."

Fiske conducted the rest of the call using what she describes as her "deep demon voice." She says it was tough to remain professional while sounding so silly, but despite smirks and curious glares from coworkers, she stuck it out and solved the gentleman's problem.

"As it was happening, it occurred to me how strange it must seem to others," Fiske says. "He had already said that the deeper voice was better, so there was no going back."

Stupid tech support trick No. 3: The case of the IT ghost

Any IT pro will tell you that remote access can be a real lifesaver. But sometimes, taking control of someone's computer from afar can have unintended consequences.

Just ask Russ Long, the IT director of SDS Pharmacy, who was remotely troubleshooting a new point-of-sale system at one of his company's stores on an otherwise ordinary day. He hopped on the phone with the store's manager and signed into the system to see what was up. Long was on the brink of resolving the issue when he encountered another problem he'd never anticipated.

"I heard a scream on the other end of the phone," Long recalls.

Long's first thought was that the store was being robbed. A moment later, though, he discovered it was something far more amusing actually going on.

"The person working the register started yelling that the computer was possessed," Long says.

Apparently, the notion of remote control was new to this associate. Long says it took a good few minutes to calm her down and convince her he wasn't a rogue spirit invading her screen. He admits he had to mute his phone a few times to keep his laughter from being heard.

"Her reaction was just priceless," he says. "I only wish I could have seen her face."

Stupid tech support trick No. 4: The runaway mouse

You work for an IT support group -- specifically, the escalation team that deals only with the toughest of cases. You get a call from a customer who can't get her mouse to click. What do you do? That's the seemingly simple question Ryan Palmertree faced a few years ago.

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